By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
News reports have highlighted controversial home renovations in some of Salt Lake City’s classic neighborhoods. Understanding the history, style, and architecture of your home — and the other homes in your neighborhood — is crucial in designing an addition or renovation. Ignore this principle, and you’ll end up spending a lot of money to decrease the value of your home, not to mention those of your neighbors’.
This architectural rendering for a renovated bungalow employs the architectural style and building materials typically used in the era of the original home (below).
First of all, remember that a well-designed home is not about quantity but quality. So even before you decide to make a change that will affect your home’s exterior structure, the first question to ask yourself is “Do I really need it?” Perhaps the interior space you already have could be remodeled to better suit your needs.
For example, instead of adding on another room, could a guest room be reworked so that it also functions as a home office? Could formal bookshelves be built into a little-used dining room so that the room can be used for dining and a library? Could an interior wall be knocked out to create a larger kitchen/gathering area?
Or perhaps you really only need your home to feel larger. This can be achieved by adding more views to the outside (such as through enlarging or adding windows or French doors) or by “opening up” the interior of your home through removing walls, creating openings in walls (such as doorways or pass-throughs), or decreasing the height or length of walls. If, after considering these factors, you decide you still need to add to the size of your home, remember that architecture is one of the factors that contributes to the character of the neighborhood.
The original home
Therefore, it is essential to respect that character by ensuring that the proportion, building materials, and placement of your renovation are in harmony with the architecture of your home and area.
A good renovation should not only function well on the inside but be aesthetically pleasing on the outside. The placement, size, and style of the windows as well as the massing (or shape) of the roof contribute to an orderly and cohesive design. There are many other factors that must be considered in a renovation. A few of these issues include the selection of materials (brick, stucco, stone, etc.), the size and placement of the addition (distance from street, overall height, etc.), and the overall architectural context of the neighborhood. In the end, there are as many remodeling solutions as there are homes and homeowners.
The approach should not be to have every home and neighborhood look identical, but, rather, to apply good design principles that build on the inherent good in each home and meet the needs of each homeowner. It is our hope that by educating the public about the value of good design, we can preserve & enhance the character and value of all of Utah’s homes and neighborhoods, regardless of their “style”. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.